Munster Final Offers A Blast From the Past

 

The rivalry between Clare and Cork is probably a bit overlooked in the rest of the country but there is little love lost between the Banner and Rebels on the hurling pitch.

 

If you delve into the history of the fixture, you find games that define the rivalry. The most recent box office hit is the All Ireland Final and replay from 2014, with goals, last minute equalisers and the whole Nash penalty debate. Back in ’07 it was Semplegate with a bit of handbags before the teams had even made it properly onto the field at Thurles.

 

One match though stands out as defining the rise of the Banner. In 1995 Clare faced Cork in the All Ireland semi final, it is arguable that that had Clare not won that match, they may not have won anything in the nineties and become the power in the game that they are now.

 

The Banner had lost the Munster Finals of 1993 and 1994 and morale was at a low point. Enter the management of Ger Loughnane in 1995. He delivered a brutal shock to the system of the Clare panel to put steel in their minds and bodies. The hill at Crusheen was notorious as Loughnane and Mike McNamara drove their players up and down the banks in search of the Holy Grail.

 

That day against Cork, Loughnane was like a man possessed entering the field of play to cajole and encourage his charges to greater heights. With three subs used Seanie McMahon, the totemic centre back, damaged his collar bone and was forced to play corner forward. From there he forced the sideline ball that led to Clare’s decisive goal from Ollie Baker. 

 

It was epic stuff. Many of the leading figures in Clare hurling since were central players. Davy Fitz, Loughnane, Anthony Daly, Brian Lohan. Let Sunday be the next episode!